Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The influence of a series of five dry cupping treatments on pain and mechanical thresholds in patients with chronic non-specific neck pain - a randomised controlled pilot study

In this preliminary trial we investigated the effects of dry cupping, an ancient method for treating pain syndromes, on patients with chronic non-specific neck pain. Sensory mechanical thresholds and the participants'self-reported outcome measures of pain and quality of life were evaluated.

Methods: Fifty patients (50.5 +/- 11.9 years) were randomised to a treatment group (TG) or a waiting-list control group (WL).

Patients in the TG received a series of 5 cupping treatments over a period of 2 weeks; the control group did not. Self-reported outcome measures before and after the cupping series included the following: Pain at rest (PR) and maximal pain related to movement (PM) on a 100-mm visual analogue scale (VAS), pain diary (PD) data on a 0-10 numeric rating scale (NRS), Neck Disability Index (NDI), and health-related quality of life (SF-36).

In addition, the mechanical-detection thresholds (MDT), vibration-detection thresholds (VDT), and pressure-pain thresholds (PPT) were determined at pain-related and control areas.

Results: Patients of the TG had significantly less pain after cupping therapy than patients of the WL group (PR: -22.5 mm, p=0.00002; PM: -17.8 mm, p=0.01). Pain diaries (PD) revealed that neck pain decreased gradually in the TG patients and that pain reported by the two groups differed significantly after the fifth cupping session (-1.1, p=0.001).

There were also significant differences in the SF-36 subscales for bodily pain (13.8, p=0.006) and vitality (10.2, p=0.006). Group differences in PPT were significant at pain-related and control areas (all p<0.05), but were not significant for MDT or VDT.

Conclusions: A series of five dry cupping treatments appeared to be effective in relieving chronic non-specific neck pain.

Not only subjective measures improved, but also mechanical pain sensitivity differed significantly between the two groups, suggesting that cupping has an influence on functional pain processing.Trial registration:The trial was registered at (NCT01289964).

Author: Romy LaucheHolger CramerKyung-Eun ChoiThomas RamppFelix Joyonto SahaGustav DobosFrauke Musial
Credits/Source: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:63